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Filatov scores shootout winner as Columbus beats the Maple Leafs 5-4

NHL.com @NHL

TORONTO - The dress rehearsal is over. And the final act wasn't pretty.

The Toronto Maple Leafs blew a two-goal lead late in their final exhibition tuneup and watched as the Columbus Blue Jackets completed the comeback in a shootout, walking away with a 5-4 victory on Sunday.

Nikita Filatov had a goal in regulation before scoring the shootout winner for Columbus (4-4-0). Alexandre Picard, Jakub Voracek and Jason Chimera also had goals for the Blue Jackets.

Mikhail Grabovsky scored his team-leading fifth pre-season goal and added two assists for Toronto (2-5-2). Mike Van Ryn, Anton Stralman and Alexei Ponikarovsky also scored.

It looked like the pre-season was going to end on a high note for the Leafs as they held a 4-2 lead late in the third period. Voracek and Chimera scored 15 seconds apart with under three minutes to play to force overtime.

Filatov was the only player to score in the shootout.

The next time the Maple Leafs take the ice for a game will be Thursday night in Detroit, where they'll watch the Red Wings raise a Stanley Cup banner before opening the regular season.

The final exhibition game offered a glimpse of what fans can expect to see once the games start counting in the standings. The Leafs looked sloppy and disorganized at times, but received some good goaltending from Vesa Toskala.

Interim GM Cliff Fletcher watched his team play nine exhibition games over a two-week period and thinks his team is going to struggle a bit offensively.

"We're going to have trouble scoring goals, particularly against the good teams," Fletcher said during the second intermission on Sunday. "Goals come from skill and talent."

The best example of skill and talent during the pre-season came from Grabovsky, who was acquired in a trade with Montreal over the summer. The 24-year-old has just 27 games of NHL experience so far but will be counted on heavily this year.

Grabovsky's goal at 11:50 of the second period tied the score 2-2. He finished off a tic-tac-toe passing play by firing a low shot under Fredrik Norrena and pumped his fists in celebration.

He later assisted on goals by Stralman and Ponikarovsky to finish off the pre-season with five goals and eight points in eight games. The flashy centre made a good impression during training camp.

"He competes hard," said Fletcher. "With us, he's going to have a lot of opportunity to play in offensive situations."

First-round pick Luke Schenn turned in another solid game on Sunday and seems destined to start the season in the NHL.

Fletcher hinted that an entry-level contract for the 18-year-old defenceman was already in place and said it would be "logical" for reporters to assume that Schenn is staying with the team for now. The only other option the club has is to send him back to Kelowna for another year in the Western Hockey League.

The Leafs are expected to make their final roster decisions over the next couple days. An official team list must be submitted to the league by 3 p.m. ET on Wednesday.

Many have suggested that it would be best for the Leafs to have a poor season to secure another top draft pick next June. Fletcher acknowledged that he loves having top selections before adding one caveat: "You have to get your brains beaten out to get one of them."

Notes: Announced attendance at Air Canada Centre was 18,455 but there were plenty of empty seats ... Columbus opens the regular season in Dallas on Friday night ... Blue Jackets captain Rick Nash was among the players that didn't dress ... Columbus will visit Toronto on Feb. 19 in the lone regular-season meeting between the teams ... Schenn was picked fifth overall in the June draft - one spot ahead of Filatov.

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